TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: September 9, 2014
RE: Trial Court Administration Policy 505
The Supreme Court has referred a proposed amendment to Policy 505 to the committee for review and comment. The proposed amendment would automatically discontinue a child support obligation when the obligor is awarded primary residential responsibility.
The amendment was proposed by James Fleming who directs the state Child Support Enforcement Unit. He indicated that it is frustrating for parties to have to go back to court to request termination of child support when primary residential responsibility has been awarded to the obligor. A memo from Mr. Fleming is attached.
As explained in a memo from state court administrator Sally Holewa, attached, Mr. Fleming met with the Administrative Council to support implementation of the proposed amendment. The council decided to refer the proposal to the Chief Justice for further review by an appropriate committee.
In Crandall v. Crandall, 2011 ND 136, the Supreme Court analyzed whether a parent awarded primary residential responsibility may also be required to pay child support. After an extensive review of case law, statutes, and the administrative code, the Court held that the Crandall trial court's decision to require the parent with primary residential responsibility to also pay child support was not consistent with the law. "This Court's decisions recognize that the child support guidelines contemplate child support payments by the parent without primary residential responsibility to the parent with primary residential responsibility," Crandall, ¶10. A copy of the case is attached.
Mr. Fleming's proposed amendment is contained in his memo and repeated in Ms. Holewa's memo. For the committee's convenience, and so the proposed change can be seen in context, staff has prepared a copy of Policy 505 containing the amendment. The other amendments shown in the copy have already been approved by the Administrative Council. The Policy 505 copy is attached.